Last year at PagerDuty Summit 2018, we officially launched PagerDuty University (PDU), a training program that provides hands-on classroom training to current and prospective customers...by PagerDuty
July 10, 2019
LeBron James. Marta. Daniel Cormier. Tom Brady. Simona Halep. One thing these individuals—each widely considered amongst the best in their respective sports—have in common is their commitment to training. Each dedicated countless hours to carefully honing their skills through continuous training, to the point that when faced with a challenge, they respond instinctively. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that even after reaching the pinnacle of their chosen professions, each continued to train just as hard, if not more so, to remain there.
The old adage “practice makes perfect” is proven true time and again, even outside of the sporting world. Whether it be award-winning musicians or Michelin Star chefs, the result of a quality training program is peak performance. Even the most talented and gifted individuals need to train consistently in order to reach their full potential and their goals.
The necessity of training is just as important in digital operations management as it is in sports. Whether your goal is four nines or cutting your team’s time to resolution in half, these goals will not be met without appropriate training. Just as world-class athletes need to repeat actions until they become second nature, it’s important for digital operations practitioners to repeatedly practice how to respond to incidents so that when issues do arise, they are well equipped to handle them.
Muscle memory, however, is not enough. As all athletes know, correct form is just as important. Consistently practicing a particular action, but doing so incorrectly, will be detrimental to achieving your goals. Effective training results in the appropriate response becoming the automatic response when issues arise. Just as a golfer needs to practice striking the ball correctly while also focusing on the upswing and follow-through for optimum accuracy and power, effective digital operations training should teach practitioners how to address an issue once it arises, how to appropriately respond to it once they have been alerted, and how to document it after it has been resolved. This means not just focusing on how your developers should fix the problem, but how they will be notified, how they should acknowledge ownership of the incident, and how they communicate the cause, effects, and resolution related to the issue.
While it may seem tempting to invest in training only one or two team members, this approach is not best practice. As proven in the 2018 NBA finals and again at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, it’s nearly impossible for one or two fantastic performers to carry the entire team to achieve the ultimate goal—even if your team members are named LeBron, Messi, or Ronaldo. In order for teams to perform at their absolute best, every member needs adequate training so that each individual can carry their own weight and successfully perform in their assigned role.
It’s also important for every member of your team to know their roles and responsibilities. The height of an incident is not the time to be deciding who should do what or to explain what must be done—especially in situations where mere minutes of downtime can mean the loss of millions of dollars. Instead, you want to ensure that your team knows how to function as a single unit when times are challenging so that they can execute an effective incident response when things are at their most stressful. This may mean already having an Incident Commander identified and everyone understanding the Incident Commander’s role, as well as the roles of every other person involved in resolving an incident. Alternatively, it may simply mean immediately knowing who to contact based on the incident. The correct response may vary from issue to issue or team to team, but having your entire team trained means that you and your team have spent time determining what works best—and that everyone will know what’s required of them when an issue arises.
The truth is, developing an effective digital operations training program isn’t easy. There are a number of things that need to be considered, including the current well-being of your team, individual learning styles, familiarity with the various tools available, the number and frequency of incidents you’re currently dealing with, and resistance to change. And that’s before you even begin to develop the training content. This is one of the reasons why so many organizations overlook effectively training their employees. Simply taking that first step is not so simple—it’s a lot of work!
PagerDuty understands the importance of effective training, which is why we developed PagerDuty University, our customer training program. The purpose of PagerDuty University is to not only provide current and prospective customers with technical training on how to use the PagerDuty platform, but also to provide modular, role-based, best-practice training suitable for any digital operations management practitioner.
Today, as part of PagerDuty Summit, we are hosting a full day of training at the Westin St. Francis hotel in San Francisco. In addition to a variety of training opportunities, attendees will be receiving hands-on coaching from industry experts and gain valuable insights from hundreds of other PagerDuty customers.